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DECLARE MORATORIUM & TASKFORCE INVESTIGATION INTO ILLEGAL LAND GRABS ON UNALIENATED MOTU AND KOITABU LAND NOW!

1921, Wanigela Village, by Frank Hurley

Monday 9 April 2012 – Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea:

The Motu Koitabu Association is anxious about the rate at which residential and commercial developments continue to go unnoticed upon unalienated Motu and Koitabu land in both the nation’s capital and Central province.

The Association, comprising individuals from Gabagaba right down to Manumanu, now want a Government moratorium and taskforce investigation declared immediately.

The moratorium should suspend new and future applications for Freehold Title, Special Agriculture and Business Lease, and Lease-Lease Back until a proposed taskforce commences hearing and makes its findings into allegations of illegal land grabs.

Association spokesperson, Raymond Haoda said: “The taskforce investigation should give the Motu and Koitabu people the time and opportunity to raise claims of illegal land grabs at hearings in Motu and Koitabu villages. “

He added: “To start off with, members of the association allege that commercial development on land at 8 Mile is an example that needs to be investigated. And the association thinks there may also be other land grabbing activities that need to be vetted.”

Mr Haoda said:“We request Prime Minister Peter O’Neill through the National Executive Council to impose a moratorium without delay. We also demand that the National Executive Council commissions a task force to investigate claims of illegal land grabbing.”

“The Motu Koitabu Association believes the total state land area available for commercial development in NCD has diminished that those with legal and illegal development plans are making what we think is unauthorized and unmonitored deals with purported landowner representatives to access unalienated Motu and Koitabu land.

This is a real concern because it might be occurring without due diligence or prior and informed consent of the landowning clan or clans.

“The moratorium will give us the time and the opportunity to investigate where our traditional land boundaries actually start and end. We want to assess whether we the traditional land owner clans have overestimated the total area of traditional land that we have always laid claim to. Without this moratorium we will be unable to make this assessment. How do we know who has legal or customary rights over our own traditional land especially when there are unmonitored and unauthorized land grabbing activities?” Mr Haoda added.

He said the association looks forward to contributing to draft terms of reference to set up the taskforce.

“Although the Motu Koitabu Association is non-political, the association has an obligation to keep members informed of developments affecting them. I want us to be aware of issues such as illegal land grabbing and the associated impact on our rights as former customary landowners. We must understand that because part of our customary land has been acquired by the State, this has and continues to interfere with Motu and Koitabu people’s access to land, welfare, and economic opportunities. Therefore, Motu and Koitabu constituents in the Moresby North-West, Moresby South, and NCD Regional electorates must vote wisely. One generation too many has suffered enough already!”

The Motu Koitabu Association also notes the current controversy surrounding claims and counterclaims over Portion 1597 by National Housing Corporation and Paga Hill Development Limited.

Mr. Haoda says:

“In terms of Portion 1597 and other similar cases, the National Government and the Land Titles Commission had moved on and left generations of former customary land owners with more questions than answers. For many Motu and Koitabu people today, we have not reconciled with the fact that our forbearers sold traditional land by agreement during pre-colonial and colonial administration times. We are still grappling with questions of fairness of the land transactions. We have raised this with the colonial government and our own government over the years. The official response has always been that those agreements are lawful; to undo these agreements would be dangerous as it would open floodgates that landowners across the country would try to take over land which accommodates government assets and services. We want to see the official map of alienated and unalienated Motu and Koitabu land, the respective land claimants and current proprietors, and settlement or compensation payments approved, paid, and outstanding.”

Mr. Haoda says:

“Even the surrounds at the Jacksons Airport has been acquired by the State without compensation. We have been fighting successive governments for too long without a great deal of success. We are an aggrieved party in an illegal Motu Koitabu land deal.”

Mr. Haoda continues and says:

“The population within Motu and Koitabu villages within the nation’s capital has increased. We have within our communities an unemployed Motuan and Koitabuan section. We have a limited area of customary land which land owning clans have on hand to distribute between clan members to build houses or undertake commercial development. In most cases, especially in Hanuabada village, there is literally no land for expansion and for gardening. For Motuans and Koitabuans that want to engage in commercial activities on state land that borders on our customary land, we have had to compete with the rest of Papua New Guinea for state leases. It is absurd for us Motuans and Koitabuans because over half-dozen generations ago, our ancestors were living and working on this land that we ourselves cannot now access.”

Meanwhile, aside from monitoring illegal land grabbing activities, objectives of the Motu Koitabu Association also includes partnering with the government, donors, churches, and non-government organizations to promote the Development Agenda in both rural and urban Motu and Koitabu villages through various information-sharing, sporting, cultural, social, and economic programs.

_________________________________________________

Contact:             Raymond Haoda

                                Spokesperson
                                Motu Koitabu Association
                                Mobile: 76187874

Editor’s Note:

The Motu Koitabu Association is an unincorporated organization. It is a mouthpiece and development forum established for citizens and non-citizens originally from Motu and Koitabu villages starting from Gabagaba in the Hiri East region through the National Capital District and ending at Manumanu in the Hiri West region. The association is non-sectarian and non-political. Membership is also open to corporate and non-Motu or non-Koitabu persons although these categories of persons do not have voting rights within the association.

Raymond Haoda is a member of the Dubara clan of Hanuabada village in the National Capital District.

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